Friday, May 18, 2018

Quality, Quick

Instant coffee from ironclad, the return of Don't Look Back, and other food and drink news.

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Quality, quick

Not every cup of coffee can (or should) be a lovingly crafted pour-over or a delicately balanced latte with steamed house-made almond milk. Sometimes you’re in a hurry, or you’re stuck at your desk and can’t run out for the caffeine you desperately need to make it through the day. Soon, Ironclad Coffee Roasters will make those hectic days a little more bearable.

Last week, the Richmond-based company announced its soon-to-come line of instant coffee. According to a recent news release, the new product will feature the “same whole-bean coffees of exceptional quality” in convenient freeze-dried form.

“This is ultimately about both quality and convenience,” says Ryan O’Rourke, Ironclad’s founder. "Finally, coffee enthusiasts don’t have to go without specialty coffee or settle for something they don’t enjoy when they’re 30,000 feet in the air, in a hotel room, camping off-grid or staying anywhere that doesn’t offer access to great coffee. There’s no longer any need to compromise.”

The instant coffees will become available over the course of the summer as the team behind Ironclad prepares to open its cafe in Shockoe Bottom. Keep an eye on our weekly food and drink newsletter, the Bite and this blog for details on local tasting events.

Summer sippin’

It doesn’t get much more summer than watermelon, and Midnight Brewery knows it. It may still technically be spring, but with temperatures creeping up it certainly feels like the hot season. This Saturday, May 19, Midnight will release this year’s batch of its beloved watermelon lime kolsch. At 5.6 percent alcohol it’s sweet, smooth, and easy to sip. This time around it’ll be available on tap and in six-packs.

Blast from the past

It’s back, and we encourage you to look. Don’t Look Back, the taco joint that closed its Carytown doors last summer after a fire, is up and running in the old Triple billiards hall on West Broad Street.

The menu features a selection of tacos with fillings like carnitas, seared cod, fried egg and portobello mushrooms, each available on a corn or flour tortilla and served gringo (cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa) or traditional (cilantro, red onion and lime) style. You’ll also find quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, taquitos, and the ever-beloved Frito pie: pinto beans, red chili sauce, cheese, salsa, sour cream and lettuce all inside a bag of corn chips. Drinks include beer and wine, and of course margaritas. You can go for the classic, or spring for tequila infused with jalapeño-orange, pineapple, cucumber or strawberry.

Don’t Look Back is open late seven nights a week, with tacos available until 1 a.m. and drinks until 1:30 a.m.

Heroes on the hill

Is there anything more Richmond than picking up a pizza or a sub at , hopping across Strawberry Street and enjoying a picnic in Scuffletown Park? And look, I’m not here to condone drinking in public, but the restaurant offers bottles to go, and what’s pizza without beer?

Now, Church Hill residents can indulge without driving across town. The second iteration of 8½, at 2709 E. Marshall St., is officially open for business. The menu is exactly what you’ll find in the Fan, and it’s even two blocks from Patrick Henry Park, so you can still get the classic pizza-in-a-park experience that 8½ devotees have loved for years.

Grocery games

Good news for Shockoe Bottom residents who love an affordable salad bar — Farm Fresh will remain open. Earlier this year, Supervalue, which has owned the grocery store chain for nearly 20 years, announced its plan to sell 21 of its 38 locations, including the one here in Richmond. Employees and shoppers were unsure what the sale would mean, but Charlottesville-based Neighborhood Grocery Holdings will soon acquire the East Main Street store.

“We’re looking forward to getting to know the community and tailoring the store’s product selection to its customers’ preferences with enhanced offerings and competitive pricing,” says the company’s managing director of operations in a release. “We firmly believe the customers know best, and we’re looking forward to expanding our selection, adding more local products, and catering to their suggestions.”

Bagel bash

Who’s ready for some bagels? Apparently, everyone is. The Nate’s Bagels storefront officially opened its doors at 7 a.m. today, and according to social media reports, the line has been out the door all morning.

The menu, which includes breakfast and lunch, will feature a regularly changing selection of bagels. Flavors like everything, which Nate Mathews says is overwhelmingly the most popular, cinnamon-raisin, poppy-seed and pumpernickel will be available every day, while others like chocolate-chip and olive will rotate in and out. There’s also the Nate’s bagel — a secret recipe Mathews describes as neither sweet nor savory, which he says is best enjoyed toasted with some butter. As for toppings and spreads, the cream cheeses are whipped in-house, with flavors including plain, scallion, blueberry and Wildfire hot sauce.

If you’re looking for something a little more elaborate than a bagel with cream cheese, the lunch menu offers more than a dozen signature sandwiches like the bagel bahn mi, smoked whitefish salad and Reuben. Add on some chips and a homemade dill pickle for a $10 lunch.

Read more about Nate’s Bagels here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Nate’s Bagels Opens its Cary Street Storefront Wednesday Morning

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 8:00 PM

It’s Tuesday morning, and a woman steps into the building at the corner of Cary Street and Allen Avenue. She clutches her purse and gazes around the shop, clearly looking for breakfast. Nate Matthews smiles, sets down his cold-brew coffee and tells the eager guest that, sorry, it’ll be one more day before doors officially open. Mathews locks the door behind her and laughs, noting that it’s happened “about every five minutes” since the Nate’s Bagels sign went up weeks ago.

Mathews, the engineer-turned-baker who’s been slinging small-batch bagels at pop-ups and farmers markets since 2016, is finally ready to open the Nate’s Bagels storefront. Breakfast will start at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and if the recent soft openings are any indication, Richmonders are ready for bagels.

“The line was out the door,” Mathews says of the quiet, surprise open hours he held last week. “We sold out of 300 bagels in about an hour and a half.” Customers who have been devotees of Nate’s Bagels since its humble inception as a once-a-week bagel club and catering business won’t be disappointed, and Mathews says they may notice some differences. With a kitchen featuring an industrial-sized mixer and an oven that can bake up to 600 bagels at a time, the process is more streamlined and results in a more consistent product.

“We were used to this little mixer that beat the dough to death, and then the rest of the dough’s life you’re trying to resuscitate it,” he says, adding that with the old setup, one batch of dough yielded 36 bagels. Now he gets a minimum of 250 bagels from a batch. “Now to watch that hook turn slowly and perfectly and not scrape the bowl, there’s a ton of joy there, just watching your equipment run and seeing the future. It was really neat to take out a lump of dough as big as the table instead of this little thing.”

The menu, which includes breakfast and lunch, will feature a regularly changing selection of bagels. Flavors like everything (which Mathews says is overwhelmingly the most popular), cinnamon-raisin, poppyseed and pumpernickel will be available every day, while others like chocolate-chip and olive will rotate in and out. There’s also the Nate’s bagel — a secret recipe Mathews describes as neither sweet nor savory, which he says is best enjoyed toasted with some butter. As for toppings and spreads, the cream cheeses are whipped in-house, with flavors including plain, scallion, blueberry and Wildfire hot sauce.

If you’re looking for something a little more elaborate than a bagel with cream cheese, the lunch menu offers more than a dozen signature sandwiches like the bagel bahn mi, smoked whitefish salad and reuben. Add on some chips and a homemade dill pickle for a $10 lunch.

As Mathews and his staff settle into the groove of a brick-and-mortar business, they’ll continue rolling out more goodies, like housemade sodas and specialty coffee drinks. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for future announcements.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Holed Up

Bagels and donuts on the horizon, plus food and drink events this weekend.

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 3:29 PM

The buzz on the bagels

The only bad thing about Nate Matthews’ opening up a storefront is that his bagel pop-ups have been on hiatus for the last couple months, while he and his team have been grinding away for the homestretch. We’ve been keeping an eye on that spot at Cary Street and Allen Avenue, and the official opening is so close we can taste it.

Matthews quietly opened the doors for a few hours last week, allowing anyone who happened to notice the post on Instagram to pop into the shop for a bagel and some coffee. The short-lived soft opening was a hit, and Nate’s Bagels will, at long last, open its doors on Wednesday, May 16. You can expect the classics like blueberry, garlic and onion, and flavors like gingerbread, three-cheese and orange-cranberry.

Check the Short Order blog next week for details.

The doughnut down low

While we’re on the topic of circular breakfast foods, let’s talk about Hot Diggity Donuts. Owned by married couple and business duo Michael and Laura Hild, the Manchester doughnut shop is tantalizingly close to opening its doors. According to social media, the team is “just waiting on our liquor license and a few last minute construction details.”

Michael Hild describes the concept as a doughnut lounge, which will be so much more than a shop that serves doughnuts and coffee. The menu will also feature cocktails, shooters, craft beer and wine on tap. Each yeast sourdough doughnut (sourdoughnut?) will be fried to order and topped with the goodies of your choice. Signature doughnuts include vanilla glaze, sesame chai, lemon poppy, maple bourbon, bittersweet mocha and rhubarb agave.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

What’s up this weekend

Here’s a friendly reminder that Mother’s Day is this weekend, and what says “I love you, Mom” like a glass of sangria? Beginning at noon on Sunday, Buskey Cider will serve up the newest iteration of its cider sangria. Starting with a base of Buskey’s tart cherry cider, the sangria features strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges and arugula (don’t knock it till you try it). Oh, and if you forgot to get your mom flowers, don’t sweat it — all the mothers who come by the cidery on Sunday will leave with a flower.

Several other local spots are honoring mamas this weekend. Quirk Hotel will pour mimosas on the roof, Whisk has Mother’s Day goodie boxes available, Rose and Eddie’s has a special menu on Sunday, and James River Cellars Winery will hold Mommapalooza, an all-weekend event featuring food trucks, wine-and-cake pairings and Mother’s Day portraits by Relish Photography by Lee.

Have You Tried The New Let's Go RVA Beer from Sierra Nevada?

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 1:36 PM

As I was scrolling through Trinkin, a locally owned application that shows you where and what beer is on draft near you, I noticed Let’s Go RVA IPA.

At first, I assumed this was a beer name mix-up: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has produced RVA IPA, a community-centric IPA using hop rhizomes donated to interested growers in the Richmond community, since they opened their doors six and a half years ago.

A little more research showed it wasn’t a mix-up. It’s a collaboration between SportsBackers, the non-profit whose goal is to foster a physically active community in Richmond, Venture Richmond and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the long-running brewery based out of Chico, California, for the upcoming Dominion Energy RiverRock, a large outdoor festival happening May 18-20 on Brown’s Island.

So the all-important question: What does it taste like?

The Session IPA is 4.8% ABV and is pale clear yellow in color. It’s an accessible quaff with low hop bitterness (seven different hops were used: Magnum, Citra, El Dorado, Loral, Nelson Sauvin, Mandarin Bavaria, Huell Melon). Easy drinking for an all-day outdoor festival.

How did the two get together? Sierra Nevada is a four-year sponsor for the outdoor festival. SportsBackers, knowing that Sierra Nevada would again be sponsoring the festival and providing beer, saw a natural tie-in to Richmond’s burgeoning beer scene. They collaborated on the style, created the artwork for the tap handles, and named it based on SportsBackers’ upbeat slogan, Let’s Go RVA.

“Part of what we love about Dominion Energy Riverrock is the balance of extreme and extremely accessible,” says Pat Hazlett, event team manager for Sierra Nevada Brewing in a press release. “That’s what we wanted to capture in the Let’s Go RVA IPA we brewed exclusively for this year’s festival --a balanced, approachable IPA highlighting a few exceptional hop flavors and aromas. It’s a beer and a festival that anyone from an amateur to a pro can enjoy.”

If you can’t make it to the festival, you can find the beer at these local spots: Boulevard Burger and Brew, Capital Ale House (Main St. location), Colonial Kitchen & Market (New Kent), Dash In Dash Out, Fat Dragon, Heritage, Independence Golf Course, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, Kroger (14101 Midlothian Turnpike), Salisbury Country Club, Southern Railway Deli, Strawberry Street Café, The Caboose (Ashland), The Hop Craft Pizza & Beer, Toast, Whole Foods Market (11173 W. Broad Street), Wong Gonzalez, and Zzaam Fresh Korean Grill.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pick of the Pacific

Richmond Restaurant Group opens West Coast Provisions near Short Pump.

Posted By on Thu, May 10, 2018 at 4:59 PM

When the team at Richmond Restaurant Group re-branded Water Coastal Kitchen in Carytown as East Coast Provisions in 2016, the plan all along was to also open a companion restaurant, a West Coast version. A year and a half later, partners Michelle Williams and Jared Golden, along with corporate chef Trevor Knotts, opened the doors to West Coast Provisions in Henrico.

“You definitely recognize that they belong to one another,” Williams says, noting that the decor in both features reclaimed wood, ghost painting and identical chairs.

Williams goes on to add that fans of East Coast Provisions will find familiar favorites at the new spot, and there’s a fair amount of cuisine overlap -- the shaved octopus appetizer, tuna tacos, steak frites and scallops with rice grits all appear on both menus. West Coast’s sushi and sashimi selection also came directly from East Coast, along with sushi chef Nicole Gigliotti. Several offerings have West Coast twists, like the lobster: in Carytown, it’s served with garlic butter; in the West End, it’s cooked in a Cantonese style.

“In the entrees you’ll see West Coast influences here, where you’ll see East Coast influences there,” Williams says. “So it’s the same types of dishes but prepared more in keeping with the Pacific Rim, Asian influences, the Northwest, a little Baja. It’s giving us an opportunity to explore a bunch of different cuisines.”

Williams, Golden and Knotts obviously aren’t the new kids on the block. West Coast Provisions is the Richmond Restaurant Group’s eighth endeavor, and Knotts has been on board for three of them. But Williams says opening a new restaurant doesn’t become less challenging or less exciting from one time to the next.

“It’s really hard and exhausting, but it’s fun, you know, creating and bringing a vision to life,” Williams says. “And the energy is so good, everybody is so excited about their job and being involved in something.”

Corporate chef Trevor Knotts, who worked with Williams to create the menu, echoes that sentiment.

“Every single one has had its own set of challenges, but having done it a few times helps you prepare for challenges and even the unknown,” says Knotts, who will run the kitchen as the crew finds its legs. “Even though you don’t know what it is of course, you know to expect things to go funny. And so it’s just a matter of being able to adapt and kind of roll with those punches.”

Head chef Ian Boothman joined the team after moving from Philadelphia, and sous chef Hayden McNeese made the move from East Coast Provisions. Knotts says he couldn’t be more excited about the team they’ve assembled, and he’s counting on the seasoned pros to help the new guys as they learn the ins and outs of the kitchen. It’s a complicated menu, Knotts says, and having a team that can already function more like a ballet than a set of bumper cars puts them at a “huge advantage.”

“I’m pushing the envelope hard as far as ingredients, techniques, plating, and we don’t really have too many things that are very simple necessarily,” Knotts says. “What might surprise some people is some of the things that look very simple are really challenging, they’re really technical. Our octopus carpaccio is one of those dishes that’s so simple in its appearance and its flavor, but everything has to be perfect. Everything has to be perfectly balanced and perfectly executed or it’s ruined.”

West Coast Provisions

301-A Maltby Blvd., Henrico

Wednesdays and Thursdays 5 to 10 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 11 p.m.

Happy hour Mondays - Fridays 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

West Coast Provisions prepares to open, a farmers market roundup, and more food and drink news

Posted on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 3:50 PM

Richmond Restaurant Group is a powerhouse in the local food and drink scene. Operators Jared Golden, Michelle Williams and Ted Wallof own eight restaurants in the area, including Pearl Raw Bar, The Daily Kitchen and Bar, the Hard Shell and East Coast Provisions. The group’s latest venture, West Coast Provisions in Henrico, will hold its grand opening on Wednesday, May 9. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., and happy hour, featuring $3 house brand cocktails, $2 draft beer, a dozen oysters for $9 and $4-8 small plates goes until 6:30 p.m.

The raw bar features Middle Neck clams, an oyster sampler and lobster cocktail. For dinner, choose from a selection of small plates, sashimi and sushi, maki rolls, sandwiches and main dishes. The menu is heavy on the seafood, but you’ll also find roasted chicken and two Angus burgers, plus veggie options like quinoa with chickpeas and fava beans, a tempura sweet potato maki roll and a burrata salad with poached pair and brioche. Desserts include gelato and sorbet, single-malt butterscotch pudding, passionfruit soup and a house donut.

Hold the gluten, please

Earlier this week, Richmond gained a new breakfast and lunch spot. It's called 521 Biscuits and Waffles, and you'll never guess what's on the menu. Located downtown at 521 E. Main St., the new joint serves up an entirely gluten-free selection of breakfast items, including a waffle with chocolate-chips and coconut flakes inside, a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit and a waffle parfait with yogurt, mixed berries and house-made granola. Sides include breakfast potatoes, bacon, eggs and cooked apples.

Hours are Mondays - Fridays 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Mezcal and mint juleps

The Kentucky Derby falls on May 5 this year, so now’s our chance to find out whether mint juleps go with tacos. Spoiler alert: They do. Restaurants like Boka Tako Bar, Cha Chas Southwest Kitchen and Bar, Margaritas Cantina, Havana ’59, Wong Gonzalez, Nacho Mama’s, Rico’s Mexican Grill, Cornerstone Cigar Bar and Restaurant, Terraza, and Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant will celebrate Cinco de Mayo this Saturday with special menu items, discounted margaritas and live music. At River City Roll, try a tequila-based julep to celebrate Cinco de Derby and show up in costume for a chance to win a prize. The Virginia Hispanic Chamber will also observe the Mexican holiday, which contrary to popular belief commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over the French Empire and not the country’s independence day, by holding the 17th annual Que Pasa Festival. Downtown on the Canal Walk, the festival will feature “a dynamic mixture of sights, sounds and tastes” of Virginia’s Hispanic community, including an attempt at setting a record for the largest display of piñatas.

The proof is in the pudding

The sad news is that Richmond Restaurant Week is over. The happy news is that one restaurant alone raised more than $4,000 for hunger relief organization FeedMore. According to a recent news release, Acacia served 407 crabcakes and 250 pounds of fish in six days. More than 970 guests dined at Acacia during Restaurant Week, and the final donated dollar count was $4,071.32.

The next Richmond Restaurant Week will take place Oct. 22-28 of this year.

Take ’n’ bake takeover

Last week, Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake Pizza announced its plans to expand across the Richmond area. The nationwide chain, which recently opened a location in Mechanicsville at 7999 Creighton Parkway, and an Ashland location is on the horizon for later this summer.

Papa Murphy’s offers customizable, pre-assembled pizzas on thin, original, fresh pan, stuffed or gluten free crusts for pickup, which customers then take home to bake. According to a recent news release, the dough is never frozen, the whole-milk mozzarella is grated daily and the veggies are fresh and local.

Meet me at the market

Fresh strawberries and plump tomatoes are finally around the corner, y’all. While South of the James has been chugging along all year, most of the area’s farmers markets reopen in the spring. We’re lucky enough to have access to markets nearly every day of the week, and here’s a rundown of the ones that make their seasonal debut in early May:

Ashland Farmers Market

1201 Thompson St., Ashland

Saturdays 9 a.m. - noon

Brandermill Green Market

4900 Market Square Lane, Midlothian

Saturdays, 9 a.m. - noon

West End Farmers Market

12450 Gayton Road, Henrico

Saturdays, 9 a.m. - noon

Carytown Market

3201 Maplewood Ave., Richmond

Sundays, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Birdhouse Farmers Market

1507 Grayland Ave., Richmond

Tuesdays, 3- 6:30 p.m.

Goochland Farmers Market

1889 Sandy Hook Road, Goochland

Tuesdays, 3:30 - 7 p.m.

Chesterfield County Farmers Market

Chesterfield County Government Complex

Wednesdays, 2:30 - 5:30 p.m.

New Highland Baptist Farmers Market

9200 New Ashcake Road, Mechanicsville

Wednesdays 4 - 7 p.m.

Westchester Farmers Market

15786 Westchester Main St., Midlothian

Thursdays, 4 - 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Dogs In Breweries, Patio Weather and More Food News

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Brews 'n barks  

Most breweries and restaurants allow well-behaved, leashed pups on their patios. But last week, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that will allow dogs inside Virginia breweries, wineries and distilleries. Currently only guide or guard animals are allowed inside booze-making facilities. The new law, which will go into effect July 1, will give establishments the freedom to set their own rules and allow dogs inside at their own discretion.

Sandwich niche

Been missing those gigantic sandwiches since Black Sheep closed its doors last year? A new restaurant soon will take its place, and two local rockers are at the helm. Valient Thorr's Herbie Abernethy and Iron Reagan's Rob Skotis have teamed up with restaurateur Josh Novicki to launch Cobra Cabana, a dive bar that'll serve up diverse sandwiches with a side of rock 'n' roll and G.I Joe cartoon references. We'll keep you posted as the guys get closer to their estimated late summer opening.  

Drinks with a view

It's outdoor drinkin' season, and Julep's is capitalizing on the finally beautiful weather. As of last week, the downtown Southern restaurant's new patio is officially available for seating, where the full menu is available. The patio is quaint and small, so be sure to get there early in order to snag a seat.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Restaurant Week, Weekend Events and Other Food and Drink News

Posted on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 1:34 PM

Brews and barks

IPAs and pups — could it possibly get any better? This Sunday, April 29, Strangeways Brewing and Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) are teaming up for the annual Bow Wow Luau. Admission is free, and the event will include food trucks like Go Go Vegan Go and Jus Cukn’, pet-related vendors like Canine Adventure and Honest to Dog, adoptable dogs, a silent auction and of course dozens of beer on tap. For a suggested donation of $5 you’ll get a koozie, and any donations will go directly to the RACC.

Events of the day include a pets contest for best costume and best trick, plus face-painting and an opportunity to meet RACC dog alumni. Festivities kick off at noon and go until 6 p.m.

So berry delicious

This Saturday, April 28, Blue Bee Cider will host the annual Virginia Berry Cider Jam, an all-day festival honoring and celebrating berry ciders. Mean Bird will serve a berry-inspired brunch menu from noon to 3 p.m., and Agriberry CSA and Farm will be on site selling fresh fruit from 2-7 p.m.

All day, eight berry-infused ciders will be available for flights, including those from six visiting cideries: Big Fish Cider Co., Courthouse Creek Cider, Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery, Old Hill Cider, Potter’s Craft Cider and Winchester Ciderworks. Flavors will include raspberry, blueberry, strawberry-ginger and blackcurrant.

Malty and mindful

You love beer, but you also love the environment. Is there a happy medium between enjoying local craft brews while also caring about sustainability? Style’s beer writer Annie Tobey chatted with several local brewers and put together a roundup of their efforts to take care of the environment while also producing those brews that we adore. Check out the story here.

Eat more to feed more

It’s that time of year again, y’all: Richmond Restaurant Week, spring edition. It kicked off yesterday (Tuesday, April 24), and chefs at 34 area restaurants will create three-course prix fixe menus for $29.17 per person. The restaurants will then donate $4.17 from each meal to the hunger relief organization FeedMore.

Participating restaurants include Belle, Chez Foushee, Lehja, Millie’s, Pearl and Helen’s. For more information and a full list of restaurants, check out the Richmond Restaurant Week website.

Cookin’ with the coaches

Last week I joined some other local food writers (and a sports writer) for the annual Coaches’ Cook-Off. The competition benefits the Positive Vibe Foundation, an organization that provides training and job opportunities for adults with disabilities. Virginia Commonwealth University coach Mike Rhoades and University of Richmond coach Chris Mooney went head to head, with the help of the Richmond Restaurant Group’s Michelle Williams and Spoonbread Bistro’s Michael Hall, respectively.

It was a tough call, but Rhoades and Williams came away with the victory after serving a creative and comforting shepherd’s pie in an individual sized cast iron skillet. And I promise, their win had nothing to do with the homemade cocktail they served ahead of time to butter up the judges.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Smooth Operator

Pulp Fiction truck rolls into Richmond with smoothies and juices.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 10:58 AM

Just in time for spring, fresh juices and made-to-order smoothies are hitting the streets of Richmond. An Ironman athlete and lover of all things healthful, Ruslana Remennikova, serves up a rainbow of fruit- and vegetable-based drinks from inside her truck, which she’s named Pulp Fiction.

Remennikova’s smoothie recipes have come a long way. Now years removed from throwing almond milk and spinach in a blender and calling it a day, the 30-year-old business owner constantly experiments with flavor combinations for a balanced, flavorful and exotic menu of smoothies and juices. Her personal favorite, inspired by her father, is the Legacy, a blend of spinach, almond milk, banana, flax, raisins, almond butter, chia and honey.

“They’re very hearty, they’ll fill you up,” she says of the smoothies, adding that many could serve as meal replacements. “You’ll be energetic and quenched.”

Customers can create their own smoothies by combining the usual suspects such as strawberries, bananas and peanut butter, or by branching out with ingredients like coconut water, charcoal powder and matcha. Remennikova loves developing unexpected flavor profiles, like in the Roza, a smoothie with almond milk, raspberries, basil and rose water. On the juice side of the menu you’ll find options like the Berry Blu, with apple, coconut water, blueberries, blackberries and mint, and the Golden Temple with beets, carrots, ginger and apple.

For Remennikova, the business is about promoting self-love through tasty and healthy choices. Competing in an Ironman race gave her the courage and confidence to abandon her job security for a career path she believed would make her happier, an idea that had been bouncing around in her head since 2012 when she began to notice the boom in food trucks. Her vision of slinging smoothies came back in full force two years ago when her father died after a triathlon, and in January of this year she bought her robin’s-egg colored truck.

“If a person wants to change careers, fear is the only thing that stops you,” she says, adding that competing in an Ironman gave her the confidence to abandon her job security for something she believed would make her happier.

Now stocked with three and soon to be five blenders, two juicers and pounds upon pounds of produce, the truck has officially been on the streets since the end of March. Remennikova kicked off the season at a gymnastics carnival in Goochland County and a wellness studio’s open house in the city, and she says it’s taken off more quickly than she could have imagined. She’ll park her truck at City Stadium for 10 Richmond Kickers games this season, and starting Saturday, May 8, she’ll be at the farmers market at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church once a month.

“I had such a good feeling about this business because this city is so green and it wants to be healthy,” she says. For information, follow Pulp Fiction RVA on social media and check out pulpfictionrva.com.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Virginia Beach will soon be home to a floating food boat

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 8:15 PM

Sure, food carts are nice, if you’re at a brewery. But can a food cart bring you an ice cream bubble cone when you’re out on your friend’s boat?

Starting May 1, three partners will open a kind of mobile restaurant they say has never been seen in Virginia Beach.

“The Barnacle,” says a sign painted on the floating eatery by local artist Sam Welty. “VB’s first and only food boat!”

Weather and scheduling permitting, the Barnacle will post up Thursdays to Sundays at the Narrows on 64th Street, at the edge of First Landing State Park. The boat will be open from 10:30 a.m. till sundown.

“We’ve always been under the idea that there’s never food out on the water,” says co-owner Bo Zinno, whose mother’s restaurant the Anchor Inn served crab cakes and steak for 30 years in Virginia Beach.

“We’re always out there, and there’s never anywhere to go eat because we’re on boats,” says partner Tracy Edwards, who runs a pair of country bars called the Eagle’s Nest with her husband, Shea. “But this’ll be in the water.”

The Barnacle will be mobile, and hireable for private parties at places like Bay Island.

But for now, its home base will be at the Narrows along Broad Bay near Virginia Beach’s northeastern tip, where the boat will be accessible to walk-up customers via a mobile dock. Boaters will also be able to pull up alongside and pick up food, bags of ice, ice cream bars or even sunscreen.

“The boating world is different from the regular world,” Tracy Edwards says. “You leave all your problems behind. You know how the ice cream man has ice cream man music? We’ll come up with reggae music. That’ll be our trademark.”

The food at the Barnacle will mostly come in a single shape: a cone.

“One is a pizza cone,” Edwards says. “We put the dough in this machine and it comes in the shape of a cone: It bakes it. We wanted to make the food, and hold it out the window and be like, ‘Here’s your cone!’ It’ll be pizza cones, taco cones, and waffle cones, made from scratch.”

But those ice cream waffle cones won’t be the familiar sort invented by Norfolk’s Abe Doumar over a century ago.

The cones served at the Barnacle will be the Hong Kong-style street snack that’s become an Instagram phenomenon over the past two years. Also called egg waffles, the bubble waffle cones are made fresh, stuffed with ice cream and topped with scads of whipped cream and often other toppings.

“The cones look just like bubble wrap,” says Edwards. “We’ve been tweaking that recipe. We use a tapioca base so it’s sweet. It’s so good.”

Zinno says a lot of locals have already seen the boat and are plenty excited.

“We keep it at Marina Shores,” he says. “We (floated the Barnacle) down past Dockside, Chick’s, Back Deck. We went by four different bars on the water. People were cheering. People were losing their minds. That’s the thing: It’s so unique.”

The Barnacle will open officially May 1, but Zinno said anybody who wants to should come out for a preview from noon to 5 p.m. on April 25 – especially if they happen to have a boat.

That’s when the Travel Channel and the Food Network are scheduled to be filming the Barnacle for a new show about food boats, he says.

“We’ve got 10 boats already confirmed,” Zinno says. “We’re trying to get as many people out there as we can. Anybody who wants to get on TV, come out on April 25.”

If You Go: The Barnacle will open May 1 at the Narrows on 64th Street, off U.S. route 60 in Virginia Beach, 757-618-5788, facebook.com/BarnacleVB. Weather permitting, planned opening hours are 10:30 am to sundown, Thursday to Sunday.

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